Active Time
30 MIN
Total Time
30 MIN
Yield
Serves : 4

I am impatient. This not-so-great quality of mine rears up when I have to wait for someone to show up to a meeting, when I agonize over how long it takes my children to exit the car when we’re out running errands, and when I have to wait for truly awesome summer tomatoes to finallyshow up at the farmers market. Sure, there are so-called early varieties that pop up in May, but they never scratch the itch. They’re just not juicy, tangy, or sweet enough. So as I impatiently wait for peak-season ’maters, I’ll force things along to get my fix.

In this warm pasta salad, I coax out summery flavor from cherry tomatoes, which are reliably sweet year-round. I salt them to draw out some juices, add red wine vinegar for more tang, and let them hang out in a bath of olive oil, shallots, and garlic. After about 20 minutes, a little pool of delicious tomato juices covers the bottom of the bowl. I use this liquid, plus a little pasta water, to finish and coat just-cooked casarecce pasta. (I love that shape, but you could use any short shape you like; I’ve also made this with trofie, rigatoni, and cavatappi.)

And that’s when all the fun puttanesca ingredients come into play. Anchovies are a necessity, giving the pasta a savory depth that you’d miss if you skipped them. (So please don’t!) I go for Castelvetrano olives and add a generous handful; I love their buttery flavor, meaty texture, and lovely green color. A couple tablespoons of petite capers pull their weight, lending an unmistakable briny goodness. Fresh oregano, earthy and savory, and basil, bright and slightly sweet, round out the flavors.

The finishing touch comes in the form of crunchy, salty pork. Prosciutto is crisped in the microwave (a quick hack that works surprisingly well) and crumbled over the pasta. No worries if you don’t have a microwave: You can crisp the prosciutto in the oven (on a parchment-lined pan at 350°F for about 15 minutes). The finished dish is fresh, super-flavorful, good warm or at room temperature (with a glass of rosé), and perfect for a deck or patio dinner.

How to Make It

Step 1    

Place tomatoes in a medium bowl; sprinkle with salt and ground pepper, and toss to combine. Add shallot, oil, vinegar, and garlic; toss well. Let stand at room temperature at least 20 minutes.

Step 2    

Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid; drain pasta.

Step 3    

Place 2 prosciutto slices on paper towels on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on HIGH until crisp, 1 minute and 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining 2 prosciutto slices.

Step 4    

Drain tomato mixture over a bowl, reserving liquid. Combine warm pasta, anchovies, tomato liquid, and 1/3 cup cooking liquid in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook until sauce slightly thickens and coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in drained tomato mixture, sliced basil, olives, oregano, and capers. Crumble prosciutto over pasta; garnish with basil leaves and, if desired, cracked pepper.

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